Ray Forrester (New Zealand), Ryan Roundy (Utah), Luck Mocke (South Africa), Jonny Linehan (New Zealand) and head coach David Smyth (Ireland) were all beaming, exhilarated after an incredible season capped off with a national championship.
The differences amid shared success didn’t stop there. Forrester and Roundy, who were sitting to the right of Smyth, are seniors. Their expression was one of joy, yes, but it was a content kind of joy, the kind tempered by knowing full well things could have turned out differently with anything less than what the team did on the field.
Contrast that to Mocke and Linehan, the freshmen seated to Smyth’s left. Linehan was unabashedly giddy after his game-winner and Mocke’s twice-as-sweet day (he proposed to his girlfriend immediately after the Cougars won) had him in seventh heaven. Unlike the seniors, they started their college careers at the top, national champions in front of a home crowd, blissfully unaware of how disappointing it can be to look up at someone else, somewhere else.
Brandon Gurney talks about BYU rugby’s national championship on 960AM Cougar Sports radio
What stood out just as much — perhaps even more — was the open respect seniors, freshmen and coach held for each other.
Too often the opposite atmosphere prevails. Seniors feel they’ve waited long enough for their turn. Talented freshman feel they don’t have to wait at all. Coaches get headaches trying to decide.
Yet there was Linehan, electing to focus more on the team’s defense over his title-winning kick — the last three of his 22 points (the Cougars total points: 27).
“Our defense was amazing today and to be honest, the defense won the game, not my boot,” Linehan said.
Mocke was a big reason Linehan was able to get the drop-kick off. The two had discussed the play before the game started, planning how to execute it should the opportunity present itself. Such talent and chemistry is what has a team already ridden with hardware even more excited for the future. When Mocke was asked about the future of the team, however, he immediately deferred to his predecessors.
“What’s so great is we have the seniors who have gone on before us and senior players on the team who are incredible examples,” Mocke added. “It’s just a pleasure.”
Forrester and Roundy were equally effusive in their praise of the freshmen who will build on what they’ve helped establish.
“They’re great leaders of the future of BYU rugby for sure,” Forrester immediately offered, unprompted, after Roundy’s comments. “They’re such great rugby players and outstanding guys off the field as well. You see these happy, nice dudes, but they get down and do their jobs, too. It’s comfortable handing over the reigns to such people.”
In the middle of it all, literally, was Smyth, who couldn’t say enough about the seniors who were leaving or the freshman who would take their place.
“These two guys (Mocke and Linehan) are new to our program. They’ve had a great season,” Smyth said. “But what they’ll learn from these guys (Forrester and Roundy) will help them moving forward as they go through their years here at BYU. These guys have taken them under their wings and really been an example to them and brought them up to speed on what the expectations are in our program. Jonny and Luke have really stepped up and been huge for us.”
Sure, winning can make chemistry easier. If that were the only ingredient, it wouldn’t be so hard to find.
In 2013, BYU men’s rugby made it look easy.